Sluggish jobs data emerges from the statistical mess

Sluggish jobs data emerges from the statistical mess

There was nothing in the June employment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning to change anyone’s mind about the state of the economy — it’s sluggish and below trend, with the jobs market just keeping pace with the growth in the potential workforce at best.

At least, that’s what the ABS thinks is happening. Remember that the unexpectedly strong May numbers (during which an improbable 42,000 new jobs were created, as the jobless rate dipped 0.2 points to 6.0%) were mostly off the back of absurdly positive Western Australian data. The ABS now says that unemployment actually fell even more, to 5.9%, in May. Except, then it rose again in June to 6.0%. So no change.

The ABS says that just 7300 new jobs were created in June (a sixth of that huge May figure), with all of these coming in full-time employment (all seasonally adjusted); full-time employment was up 24,500 to 8156 million people in June, and part-time employment fell 17,200 to 3,612 million. The total number of people employed rose to 11,768 million people. The participation rate increased less than 0.1 points to 64.8% — but the hours worked total rose 5.1 million hours (0.3%) to 1,636.9 million hours — which is some good news.

At least the WA numbers have been sorted out, for now: unemployment is back to 5.8% in the west from 5.1% in May. NSW is up a tad to 5.8%, Victoria flat at 6%, Queensland down 0.2 points to 6.1% (but participation there was lower); the always-volatile South Australian numbers jumped from 7.6% to 8.2%, and Tasmania fell to 6.5%. Unemployment is going nowhere fast — but at least that means it’s not going up.

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